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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Introduction: Music, Voices, Absence, Silence (Kate McLoughlin)


kate mcloughlin

Briefly, this was the most ‘liked’ tweet in history:2

broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.3

It was posted by Ariana Grande on 22 May 2017, a few hours after a radical Islamist suicide bomber killed twenty-two people and injured more than 500 just after the end of her Dangerous Woman concert at the Manchester Arena. Two weeks later, Grande did have words, and was singing them alongside the likes of Justin Bieber, the Black-Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Liam Gallagher, Niall Horan, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams at the One Love Manchester concert she had organised in the meantime. Broadcast live in thirty-eight countries, One Love began with a minute’s silence in memory of those killed in Manchester, of those killed in another terrorist attack which had taken place on Westminster Bridge the previous evening and of victims of terrorism around the world.4

What does commemoration sound like? Ariana Grande’s response to the bombing over the two weeks from 22 May – a fortnight in which she seemed to find a new sense of purpose – demonstrates the range. ←239 | 240→No words. Words sung to 55,000 people in person and simultaneously transmitted to millions more. Silence. Song. The set list at One Love made it easy for people to sing together, to belt out hits like Angels and Don’t Look Back in Anger. During the minute’s silence concert-goers held...

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